It is with great anticipation that I look forward to the addition of the multi-use development, One Paseo. And it is with great concern that I observed the May 2 Carmel Valley Planning Board Regional Issues Subcommittee meeting whose chairwoman allowed the few but vocal opponents in attendance (including her husband who seems to be spearheading the opposition) to dominate the discussion on One Paseo, paying little regard to input by proponents.
This is not only a concern because of the apparent conflict of interest, but also because Carmel Valley may miss a one-time opportunity.
I cite the very recent situation between George Lucas’ film production company and the county of Marin in Northern California. Years ago, Mr. Lucas began his proposals for an expansion of his film studio in Lucas Valley, which would have generated hundreds of high-paying jobs and millions in tax revenue. However, the project has repeatedly met with strong opposition from the county and some homeowners and environmentalists who said it would increase traffic, noise and environmental damage, despite company promises to preserve open space and reduce impacts on the community. It became an exhausting, continual battle.
Thus, the company announced last month that it was abandoning the project saying, “The level of bitterness and anger expressed by the homeowners in Lucas Valley has convinced us that, even if we were to spend more time and acquire the necessary approvals, we would not be able to maintain a constructive relationship with our neighbors.” They are locating the film studio elsewhere (two other California cities have reached out), and are in talks to sell the Marin County property to a developer interested in building high-density, low-income housing. Shocked with the outcome and regretting their opposition, the county and homeowners appealed to Mr. Lucas to reconsider, but his decision is firm.
May this be a cautionary tale to those who oppose a vibrant town center such as One Paseo, which would consist of restaurants, retail, a boutique hotel, office complexes and housing, giving Carmel Valley what it sorely lacks—a heart.